The chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government today assured members of the foreign press that he has not given up on the peace process and would strive to pass legislation meant to ensure lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.
This is the assurance made by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, before members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) in a forum held at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City today.
Instead of pinning our hopes with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Marcos Jr says the peace process “has no end, it has to be continuing” and the search for peace is not confined to a law like the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Marcos Jr urges the public not to put a time table on peace, saying that doing so forces the hand of everyone involved in the process to do unnecessary and compromising stances and actions that affects the entire process.
What the good senator from Ilocos Norte is more concerned is the passage of a bill that is constitutional, enforceable and is trusted by all involved sectors of society.
“What we are concerned about is not the timetable but that our version of BBL would be a good one and would be a big step to peace.”
“If the BBL is part of the solution to bring peace to Muslim Mindanao, then we will pass it. But then we have to make sure that the legislation we pass is constitutional and enforceable,” Marcos told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines forum.
He said the final draft of BBL reached Congress only last late September, or six months after the basic framework was signed, and “we tried our best to work around a self- imposed deadline of finishing it before the adjournment on March 20 to give the Commission on Election time to plan out the plebiscite and hold an election of the Bangsamoro political entity by May 2016.”
Since the massacre in Mamasapano, Maguindanao of 44 Special Action Forces policemen last January 25, we had to attend to ferreting out the truth behind this unfortunate incident to give justice to the families of the slain policemen, he added.
“With the Mamasapano incident I’m afraid that timetable has changed in a way that even we cannot predict. We know what steps are going to come next but we cannot tell how long those steps would take so that we can move that legislative process more,” Marcos added.
Marcos said he is not giving up on the peace process. “What I see as what we should be doing is to find ways to peace. Now what part BBL plays in that is now being assessed and I think that in many of the discussions on Mamasapano, the BBL may take a larger perspective on the issue. If the BBL is not the magic bullet but just a partial solution then we have to continue looking for the other facets of the peace process that we feel would be important in bringing peace to Mindanao,” he stressed.